FORT POLK -- Soldiers visited Fort Polk's Army and Air Force Exchange Service shoppettes March 31 to kick off the Army's Sexual Harassment and Assault Prevention month and make the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division's position on sexual assault clear.

April is the Army's Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and it is every leader's responsibility to make Soldiers aware of the realities of sexual assault. To do that, Sexual Harassment Assault Response and Prevention volunteers like Sgt. 1st Class Robert Cortes did his part to spread the word.

"We want everyone to know that the Army is fully committed to preventing sexual harassment and assault," said Cortes, platoon sergeant, Company B, 4th Brigade Special Troops Battalion. "There is a standard that will be enforced and (we're) trying to modify the overall environment to prevent sexual assault."

Volunteers gave out pamphlets and other SHARP literature to assist in raising awareness about sexual assault and harassment. The shoppette?'s patrons were also encouraged to sign a SHARP pledge.

"The pledge is them saying, 'If I see something, I will say something; if someone's being harassed or if I know of an assault, I have a responsibility to help that person out,'" said Sgt. 1st Class Joi Friend, Sexual Assault Response coordinator, 4th BCT, 10th Mtn Div. "This is something we want Soldiers to stay committed to beyond the month of April."

Units like 4th BCT, 10th Mtn Div provide quarterly training to keep sexual harassment and assault prevention as a top priority, which is in line with the intent of top Army leaders.

"Sexual assault awareness is the Army Chief of Staff's No. 1 priority," said Friend. "It's the Army's No. 1 concern because it's important that we get the education and training out there and it's important to let people know that we take care of our own."

During the stand up event, Col. Mario Diaz, commander, 4th BCT, 10th Mtn Div, was on scene to show his unit's full commitment to end sexual assault or harassment. These crimes are inconsistent with Patriot Brigade and Army values. "Sexual assault and harassment go against everything that we stand for," said Friend. "There are a lot of people in the military, and we want to make sure that we have the best people (in the Army) and weed out the bad ones."

For more information on SHARP events or to report an incident, contact your unit Sexual Assault Response Coordinator or SHARP Representative.